During the 2021 NFL draft, Justin Fields went in as one of the top quarterback prospects sandwiched between a loaded class of Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones and Davis Mills.
The Bears, on the other hand, started with the No. 20 pick before trading with the New York Giants for the No. 11 pick to select Fields to be their next quarterback.
It was an improbable journey for both the Bears and Fields to meet where they did. He joined Barstool Sports "Pardon My Take" to explain where his mind was at, and what he was hearing, during draft night.
"I'm gonna tell y'all where my mindset was during the draft. I knew I wasn't going top-3. San Fran had told my agent that they were gonna take Trey (Lance)," Fields said.
Indeed, the 49ers took Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick after trading the No. 12 overall pick, a third-round pick in 2022, a first-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023 to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the position.
It should be noted too, Lawrence (Clemson) was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No. 1 pick, and Wilson (BYU) went to the New York Jets with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
"Atlanta, they were kinda shaky on the quarterback situation, so I thought maybe there was a chance I go there. Atlanta, they take my boy Kyle Pitts. Cincinnati had five so they went with Ja'Marr (Chase)."
For context, Falcons' longtime quarterback Matt Ryan was on a decline and potentially on his way out of the organization. He didn't leave that season, but signed with the Indianapolis Colts for the following season.
The Falcons brought in Desmond Ridder from the 2022 NFL draft. During the 2021 draft, Pitts was widely considered the best athlete out of the draft, giving way for the Falcons to take him after three quarterbacks went off the board.
"(The) next team I thought I was gonna go to was the Panthers," Fields said. "Panthers had eight. And they didn't choose me. They chose my guy Jaycee (Horn). The Broncos had the ninth pick and they chose Pat(rick) Surtain."
The Panthers rode a quarterback carousel of Sam Darnold, Cam Newton (remember him?) and P.J. Walker that season. They definitely were in the market for a quarterback in the draft. It just didn't end up being Fields, or anyone in the 2021 draft.
The Broncos, like the Panthers, but to a much higher degree, were most definitely in need of a quarterback following the 2021 season. Teddy Bridgewater recorded a .500 record with the Broncos, and Drew Lock most certainly wasn't the guy to carry the torch.
Their decision to roll with Surtain, arguably the draft's best cornerback out of Alabama, to add to a stacked cornerback room including former Bear Kyle Fuller, Bryce Callahan (also former Bear) and Ronald Darby was very confusing.
And it appeared that way to Fields, too.
"After nine, I'm in the house. I don't where I'm about to go. I don't know where I'm gonna end up," Fields said. "Because the next few teams didn't really need quarterbacks.
"So then, my agent called me, and said the Bears traded (up) and that's when I, of course, got drafted. But, it was an awesome moment with my family. Glad I got to experience that with them. But, really after four and eight, after Atlanta passed on me and Carolina passed on me I had no idea where I was gonna go.
"So, it was kind of nerve-racking a little bit. But, ended up in Chicago and I love the city of Chicago and everything it brings."
The Bears sent the No. 20 pick in that draft, along with a 2022 first-round pick, a 2021 fifth-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick to New York for Fields.
When asked if Fields would have liked to play for the Falcons, the closest NFL team to his hometown in Georgia, he responded candidly.
"It would've been cool," Fields said. "My dad had season tickets growing up so I would always go to games with him but it would've definitely been a story like even this past year when we played Atlanta I just got so many flashbacks just driving around the stadium. Thinking about the different tailgating spots my dad and I used to go to when I was a kid. I was like getting emotional a bit.
"It would've definitely been cool to play for Atlanta, play for the hometown team."
Unfortunately, for the Falcons, they are still trying to figure out the quarterback position, as Ridder headlines the possibilities for their starter next season. And luckily for the Bears, Fields landed in Chicago, as he turned into one of the league's most electric quarterbacks last season.
And yes, he's here to stay.
"I'm a Bear for life," Fields said.